Manitoba plans to open vaccine eligibility to everyone 12 and up by May 21

Manitoba expanded age eligibility today for COVID-19 vaccines to anyone 45 and older, with plans for everyone 12 and up to be able to book within the next three weeks.

All adults 45 and up now eligible, Manitoba vaccine task force says

Everyone 12 and older could be eligible for vaccination in Manitoba by May 21, provincial health officials say. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Manitoba expanded age eligibility on Wednesday for COVID-19 vaccines to anyone 45 and older, with plans for everyone 12 and up to be able to book within the next three weeks.

All adults should be eligible to schedule a vaccination appointment by May 21, Johanu Botha, co-lead of the vaccine implementation task force, said.

People age 12 and up may also become eligible to book a shot by the same day, said Botha.

Early Wednesday, Health Canada approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those 12 to 15. It was already approved for 16 and older.

"The question will be on when to fit them in," Botha said during a Wednesday vaccine technical briefing. "If we do see lower take-up or hesitancy, then there is a small chance we may be able to open it up even earlier."

WATCH | Manitoba hopes everyone 12 and up will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by May 21:

All Manitobans 12 and up to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by May 21

2 years ago
Duration 0:47
Johanu Botha, operations lead on the COVID-19 vaccine implementation task force, announced the province's plan on Wednesday to open eligibility to everyone 12 years of age or older by May 21, and begin booking second doses on May 22.

Alberta also announced Wednesday it will offer vaccines to those 12 and up, and plans to start as early as Monday.

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba's vaccine implementation task force, said the province is still reviewing the latest approval.

"We do intend to include eligibility for younger Manitobans along with adults as we move forward," Reimer said during a news conference on Wednesday.

Existing consent protocols for minors will apply, Reimer said.

More than a third of Manitoba's recent active cases have been people 19 and under.

With more young people eligible for vaccination, Manitoba may have a greater chance of reaching herd immunity, Reimer said. Experts say once 70 per cent of a population is immunized, the ability for a virus to spread is greatly diminished.

More than 40 per cent of Manitoba adults already have had at least one dose.

In the coming weeks, the province will open vaccination to new age groups on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It's possible age ranges may drop by about five years on average with each update, Botha said.

2nd doses

All Manitoba adults are expected to get their first shots by June 4-8. If Manitoba includes adolescents in its vaccine eligibility, timelines for first dose completion would extend to June 11-15.

Second dose appointments will begin shortly after first doses are done. The goal is to open up second dose bookings starting May 22, Botha said. The second dose campaign is expected to be done by the end of July.

The first wave of people to be eligible for second doses will be immunocompromised individuals and those with certain medical conditions. Once they are vaccinated, priority for second doses will be based on when people got their first shot.

Botha also said a new supersite will open in Gimli, at the recreation centre at 45 Centennial Rd., in late May.

No more hot spots

The news about expanded eligibility comes days after Manitoba opened up appointments to all First Nations, Métis and Inuit adults.

Manitoba's vaccine rollout has undergone a series of changes in recent weeks that have both expanded eligibility generally and targeted some high-risk populations in particular.

Last week, the vaccine task force opened clinics welcoming urban Indigenous populations and homeless people in several cities.

On Tuesday, the province announced a final group of high-risk areas where everyone 18 and older now qualifies.

WATCH | 'Clear decrease' in infections, outbreaks, severe outcomes in vaccine priority areas:

'Clear decrease' in COVID-19 infections, outbreaks and severe outcomes in Manitoba vaccine priority areas, officials say

2 years ago
Duration 1:02
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the COVID-19 vaccine task force, said early data on vaccine rollout is promising and indicates a drop in infections, outbreaks and severe outcomes in areas where vaccine access was prioritized early, such as personal care homes.

As eligibility expands, Manitoba continues to see its COVID-19 outlook worsen, with daily case counts and hospital numbers rising amid the third wave of the pandemic in the province.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Manitoba intensive care wards has doubled in eight weeks and is now rising at such a rate that hospitals may soon contend with volumes so far unseen in the pandemic, doctors warned on Tuesday.

Manitoba intensive care units were treating 47 COVID-19 patients on Tuesday — more than double the provincial volume of ICU COVID-19 patients on March 10, when the number was 21 people.

The number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs started to rise more rapidly late last month, as some of the thousands of Manitobans battling the disease became more acutely ill.

At the current rate, hospitals could become overwhelmed with COVID patients within weeks, say the 212 signatories on a letter sent to Premier Brian Pallister Tuesday evening, calling on his government to enact more restrictions.

The doctors also called for financial support for shuttered businesses and sidelined workers, including paid sick leave and vaccination leave.

As well, they want to see immediate vaccination eligibility for all Manitoba teachers, school staff and child-care workers.

Asked Wednesday whether there are plans to extend eligibility to school workers, Reimer said some teachers have been made eligible through the geographical model Manitoba has used lately.

Those 18 and older living in select high-risk areas are eligible, as are teachers and other public-facing workers who work but don't necessarily live in these areas. 

WATCH | Manitoba's plan to opening vaccine eligibility to those 12 and up:

Manitoba opening vaccine eligibility to those 12 and up

2 years ago
Duration 2:23
Manitoba expanded age eligibility on Wednesday for COVID-19 vaccines to anyone 45 and older, with plans for everyone 12 and up to be able to book within the next three weeks.


Bryce Hoye


Bryce Hoye is a multi-platform journalist covering news, science, justice, health, 2SLGBTQ issues and other community stories. He has a background in wildlife biology and occasionally works for CBC's Quirks & Quarks and Front Burner. He is also Prairie rep for outCBC. He has won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award for a 2017 feature on the history of the fur trade, and a 2023 Prairie region award for an audio documentary about a Chinese-Canadian father passing down his love for hockey to the next generation of Asian Canadians.

With files from Darren Bernhardt